top of page

Collective Social Design Workshops


Roskilde University, Denmark


Katia Dupret, Niklas A. Chimirri





Social Design


2010 - now


#problem-oriented learning #design education #process-oriented learning #critical pedagogy #student-centered




How to sustainably implement Higher Education’s aim to teach for critical and societally relevant thinking and acting into its teaching formats? workshop series entitled “Designing for All”, developed at Humanities and Technology Bachelor Study Program, aims to answer this question. The workshops series is part of a two-week intense workshop process for first-year students  from 2010 - 2016, and has since been offered in courses in other programs.  We suggest that teaching as well as design can only be rendered sustainable by critically reflecting on its epistemic possibilities and limitations across diverse stakeholder perspectives.



Student-centered design process

Each of the semester workshops features a different stakeholder organization as collaboration partner, ranging from a variety of NGOs to municipalities. While the theoretical focus is always put on how social design can attain sustainable impact by including an increasing diversity of stakeholder perspectives, the concrete problem and the collective design framework change according to what the collaborators and students deem relevant.


Some examples of the questions that can be used for investigation:


  • How to increase the sense of belonging/coherence in a neighborhood for people across generations?

  • How to prevent loneliness among young people?

  • How to create a higher integration in the community in your/a neighborhood?   

  • How to create a higher level of integration and/or prevent marginalization of the vulnerable people in your/a community/neighborhood? 

  • How to increase social sustainability (equal distribution of resources, sense of coherence, fairness, solidarity) in X-city/neighbourhood/community?

  • How to enhance awareness of technological potentials and pitfalls among youngsters using SoMe?

  • How to enhance awareness of technological potentials and pitfalls among eg. social care workers?  

  • How to help corporate management redirect their production and organization strategies in compliance with sustainability purposes?

  • How can projects promoting ecological sustainability in X-city/neighbourhood/community also be relevant for promoting social sustainability (including democratic participation)?


Additionally, both problem and design frameworks remain open to further renegotiations, given that the students are to test and challenge their initial design ideas with other stakeholders.


This process-oriented collective teaching-designing framework, sustainably anchors critical thinking and acting in a hands-on educational setting. Teaching is – like social design – not understood as a unidirectional way of communicating solutions to complex societal problems. Instead, it is clarified and continuously discussed, so that purposeful teaching in the field of social design builds on and fosters mutual learning processes on problems and preliminary solutions.

Additional information

Photographs source: Dupret & Chimirri (2018)

bottom of page